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Maximizing Profits at Craft Shows (Part 1): Picking the Right Event for Your Business

Craft fairs are a fun, personal way to get your products into the hands of shoppers while building brand awareness. I’ve sold my handmade jewelry at many shows over the years, so I’ve put together the following series to help you increase sales at in-person events. To start off, let’s look at a few ways to choose the perfect event for your business. If you do the wrong kind of show for your products your target market might not attend, and we all know there’s nothing worse than not making up your booth fee at a craft fair. Here are my top tips for success in this area:

Research in Advance

Before you decide which craft fairs to apply to do some online research. Many of the shows that I’ve sold well at were ones I’ve found online, discovered on social media, and been invited to via email. Look at their Facebook fan page and Twitter account to see what kind of products are typically sold there, as well as noting the other vendors who are participating. If there are many artists selling products just like yours, see if you have the option to pick your space so you’re not right next to them. I have also saved myself from some potentially disastrous shows by reading online reviews of the organizers. Always go with your gut feeling when selecting a craft fair.

Ask Your Artist Friends

I often check with my crafty maker friends to see what shows they recommend. They are an amazing resource for determining whether an event will be worth your time and money. But keep in mind that every business and every event is different, so what works for one artist might not be a good fit for you.

Attend the Show First

In addition, I recommend visiting a craft show before you apply for the next date. This way you’ll get an idea of the kind of shopper that visits, how much foot traffic it gets, and what other types of vendors are there. If it’s an outdoor show be sure to also check out the setup and layout of the event, as well as what kind of tents most vendors use. Inclement weather can make or break your success during a craft fair, so keep that in mind.

Consider the Price

Booth fees can vary widely in price. Occasionally (and rarely) they are free, some are under $100 for the day, and others can cost $2000 or more for several days. This is why picking the right show is so important- you want to make up your booth fee while also turning a profit. I get invited to apply to or participate in many shows, but I only choose the ones that are affordable for my business. It can be tough to say no to a show or to not apply to one you really want to do, but you have to be selective in order to make money.

Learn from Past Experiences

If you haven’t sold much at a particular show and didn’t make up your booth fee (which happens to everyone at some point), be very hesitant to do that event a second time. ¬†When it’s just a bad day due to weather conditions, a holiday at the same time, or random bad luck (you forgot to bring a box of your products, for instance), then it might be worth another chance. But if you’ve been disappointed several times at the same show or with the same organizer, move on and focus on those fairs that you have had better luck at (or those that have a better reputation amongst your friends). It’s better to sit out a show if you know you won’t do well than to spend a whole day there and lose money.

Hopefully these suggestions help you select the perfect craft show for your business!